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Pope Francis says he is ‘still not well,’ has aide read general audience speech

Pope Francis speaks at his Wednesday audience in Paul VI Hall on Nov. 29, 2023. / Elizabeth Alva/EWTN

Vatican City, Nov 29, 2023 / 06:20 am (CNA).

One day after canceling his trip to Dubai at the request of his doctors, Pope Francis appeared at his public Wednesday audience and shared with a raspy voice that he was still not feeling well as he recovers from the flu.

Pope Francis, who turns 87 in December, spoke softly into a microphone as he explained that he was “still not well” and would have an aide read his speech because his “voice is not good.”

The pope could be heard breathing heavily as he stood to begin the general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall with the sign of the cross on Nov. 29.

Pope Francis has “influenza and inflammation of the respiratory tract,” according to the Vatican’s spokesman Matteo Bruni, who said on Nov. 28 that the pope’s condition had “improved.”

“Doctors have asked the pope not to make the trip planned for the coming days to Dubai for the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” Bruni said in the written statement on Tuesday night.

“Pope Francis accepted the doctors’ request with great regret,” he added.

The Vatican first made public that Pope Francis was ill on Nov. 25 when the pope was taken to a Rome hospital for precautionary testing.

A CT scan at the hospital “ruled out pneumonia, but it showed lung inflammation causing some breathing difficulties,” it said.

The pope was treated earlier this week with intravenous antibiotics and continued to meet with individuals and groups in a scaled-back schedule, including the president of Paraguay on Monday and French abuse victims on Tuesday.

At his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis sat on stage in front of the crowd in the Paul VI Hall throughout the one-hour public audience, which included a circus performance.

Monsignor Filippo Ciampanelli, an official in the Vatican Secretariat of State, read aloud the pope’s spiritual reflection on “the passion for evangelization.”

At the end of the general audience, Pope Francis spoke briefly, asking people to continue to pray for Israel and Palestine. He expressed hope that the ceasefire will continue and that all hostages will be released.

“And please continue to pray for the grave situation in Israel and Palestine. Peace. Please, peace,” Pope Francis said.

“I hope that the ongoing ceasefire in Gaza will continue, that all hostages will be released, and that necessary humanitarian aid will still be allowed in. I heard from the parish there that there is a lack of water, a lack of bread, and people are suffering,” he added. “We ask for peace.”

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